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10th Annual Island Roots Festival, Green Turtle Cay


Diny had a cell phone with a local SIM card for the Bahamas from which she was able to get internet while we were at Allans-Pensacola Cay. During one of our dinners together, conversation about Green Turtle’s festival came up, so she looked up the dates for it. As luck would have it, the festival dates were May 2 – 4.

Diny sailed and motor-sailed Adventure Quest, and we motor-sailed White Swan with 15 – 20 knott winds just off our bows, i.e., a bumpy ride, to Green Turtle Cay. We had doubts Diny would finish the trip as rough as the water was. However, right as we were leaving our boat to go to the festival, she pulled up beside us in her kayak. Having already grown fond of her as a good friend, we were relieved to see her. She had arrived at Black Sound just two hours after we did, in good form. She is an amazing solo sailor. Gary and I had a nap after we got secured to a mooring ball at Donny’s Boat Rental. She, on the other hand, came straight to our boat upon her arrival, and was full of reserved energy to go to the festival.

Our traditional first stop in New Plymouth Settlement, GreenTurtle Cay was for dinner at The Wrecking Tree Restaurant. All three of us ordered cracked conch, and we were not disappointed. In the Glenn’s opinion, The Wrecking Tree serves the best cracked conch in the Abacos. While there, Gary introduced us to a couple he had met at the municipal dock in West Palm, Beach, Florida. Surprised to find each other in the Bahamas, they/we discussed our journeys and plans. Running into cruisers met or seen at other places, is always a fun and interesting part of the journey.

We enjoyed walking around the festival, looking at all the craft booths. The food booths did not appeal to us because we were stuffed with conch and fries. We lingered until the Rake and Scrape entertainer started his performance. He skillfully scraped his saw with a long metal screw driver, accompanied by music on a CD, while he sang traditional Bahamian songs. He had a pleasant singing voice and we enjoyed his performance.

The best part of his show however, was a little toddler boy who came up in front of the stage playing a homemade drum. The crowd enjoyed the little fellow so much, the smart professional entertainer had the little guy’s daddy lift him up onto the stage. Many of us spectators went forward with our cameras to photo and video the special little entertainer. He, in response to the attention and applause, ‘hammed it up’. The little guy played his drum and swayed to the beat of the professional musician’s songs. At one point the musician assisted the little boy in playing the saw. Too, too cute! The first time the daddy tried to take the boy from the stage, a temper tantrum from the new little entertainer facilitated a return to the stage. Later, when the professional thanked the little guy and told him he needed to finish out his show, the boy allowed his father, with no problem, to retrieve him from the stage. Applause, hoots, and whistles abounded for the little drummer boy as the proud father carried him away from the limelight.

The next entertainment was to be the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. Gary and I had seen them perform at the first Island Roots Heritage Festival we came to in 2011. We had enjoyed hearing them then, so we decided to wait an hour to hear them again. Unfortunately, trouble with the sound system delayed the start of their performance by another 1/2 hour. And, the sound was so bad for their first number, we got up and left. The embarrassing thing for us, and probably even more so for the performers, was we were sitting in the front row. BAD FORM, GLENNS. BOO-O-O!!! Truly, we were tired from the long day, and went back to the boat and went straight to bed… After we washed the dust off our feet.
May 3, 2014
Day 2 of the Festival

Swallowing our pride and hoping no one recognized us as the disrespectful people who left from the front row seats during the previous night’s performance, we went to the festival again the next day.

This time Gary and I had food on our agendas. There were lobsters there with our names on them and we enjoyed eating every tasty morsel. Diny wasn’t ready to eat her lunch when we had ours, but she became quite satiated as people at the table shared conch fritters and we shared our guava duff. We ordered the guava duff because we had never heard of it before. We frequently try new foods as we travel. It is part of the experience of learning new cultures. Guava duff was a dessert, more like a rolled sweet yeast bread with guava jam in it, like cinnamon rolls are made, with a light icing on top. One of the ladies at our table said it is served a lot in Key West, where she was from. Only there, it is served with a warm guava syrup over it.

Gary and Diny went to a lecture on boat building, that ended up being a boring presentation on the history of boat building. While they were gone, I sat at the water’s edge and talked to Marvin, a local young man who was cleaning conchs for one of the food booths where they made conch salad. I was with him almost an hour, so I got to watch him clean a lot of conchs. I know those of you reading this, who really know me won’t believe it, but really, I sat and just watched him for a long time before I started asking him questions. Seriously, I did. At least it seemed like a long time. Before our time together ended, I was allowed to video him while he cleaned a conch, so I can watch it and refresh my memory before I have to clean them again. My new friend was rewarded with a cold drink of his choice. Later, that day, Gary went up to Marvin and thanked him for his kindness.

As part of the festival’s entertainment, a group of young ladies danced around a Maypole. Not part of the festival’s entertainment, but very entertaining to us, was a group of men playing a passionate game of dominos. We watched them for quite some time and would have loved to join them in their camaraderie, but an appropriate opportunity did not arise.

The most fun during the festival was the “Junkanoo Rush” (pronounced junk-ah-new). The young people of the island wear fascinating masks and headdresses, and play musical instruments and drums, while parading through the festival grounds.

Some of the scheduled activities that we wanted to see did not take place: a raft race, a conch cracking contest, a gospel band; but we were content watching the people and the other activities of the festival. We stayed at the festival until 7:30 PM, planning to watch the evening’s entertainment, a Bahamian comedy troupe who presented “Election 2012: What Just Happened?” Frankly, we didn’t get the Bahamian political humor. We were smart enough to have sat near the back that night, just in case… Our exit was scarcely noticed.

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